Indiana Daily Student

Powerful kills aren’t enough as IU volleyball falls twice to Illinois

<p>IU volleyball head coach Steve Aird talks to freshman middle blocker Leyla Blackwell on March 5 in Wilkinson Hall. The Hoosiers lost two matches to Illinois this weekend on the road. </p>

IU volleyball head coach Steve Aird talks to freshman middle blocker Leyla Blackwell on March 5 in Wilkinson Hall. The Hoosiers lost two matches to Illinois this weekend on the road.

IU volleyball fell to Illinois on Friday and Saturday in three and four sets, respectively. The Hoosiers failed to bring enough energy Friday but were able to battle back Saturday to rattle the Illini.

“That’s a really good team,” head coach Steve Aird said. “It’s a tough place to play and they serve the ball great.”

The Hoosiers were swept Friday night 15-25, 21-25 and 18-25. The team hit .118 on the night, while the Illini hit .284.

Illinois freshman outside hitter Raina Terry posed a problem for IU from the beginning of the night, hitting .364 and leading her team with 11 kills. Illinois recorded a total of 41 kills, while IU recorded 31. 

Freshman outside hitter Tommi Stockham seemed unable to find her rhythm Friday night, only recording nine kills and hitting .067 with seven attack errors.

Junior outside hitter Breana Edwards led the Hoosiers with 11 kills, making Friday’s match the 10th of the season where Edwards has posted double digit kills. 

Edwards was key throughout the match, helping force Illinois into a timeout late in the second set and extending a four-point scoring run in the third set to put IU three points from tying. However, they would go on to lose by seven.

Saturday night was better for the Hoosiers as they pushed the Illini to four sets, even though they ultimately lost the match 14-25, 22-25, 25-23 and 16-25.

“We battled back in game two and I thought we played great in game three and found a way to win,” Aird said. “And then I thought we ran out of gas.”

IU struggled defensively in the first set as Illinois took advantage of holes on the court to place well-timed tips, hitting .484 with 18 kills. IU hit .071 with only eight kills. Stockham made up half of those with four.

The second set was more competitive as the Hoosiers improved their serve and pass game and were more aggressive offensively. However, they were unable to hang on and lost 22-25.

The third set saw even more energy from IU as it started with a 6-0 scoring run and remained in control throughout the set. Edwards and Stockham kept momentum going, shooting multiple kills down the sidelines to catch the Illini off guard.

IU dropped off in the fourth set after allowing a 5-0 scoring run by Illinois to start the set despite some strong kills.

“There’s the physical part of it and then the mental part of it is just learning how to compete,” Aird said.

Edwards and Stockham led IU with 14 kills each, making up over half of IU’s total 44 kills. The team hit .120, a slight increase from Friday. Illinois had 52 kills and hit .229 – a slight decrease from Friday.

The Hoosiers faced tough serving on both nights from the Illini, who are first in the conference for service aces. They posted a total of 15 aces on the weekend, while the Hoosiers only had 2. 

IU also only recorded 11 total service errors in both matches, which is significant since the team has struggled with serving well in past matches. Illinois recorded 18 service errors during the weekend. 

“I was really proud of the battle, proud of the effort,” Aird said. “They’re competing like crazy, but I think Illinois was better.”

IU, 3-15, takes on Ohio State, 15-3, in Bloomington for its final matches of the season on April 2 and 3.

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